Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (skin cancer is number 1). Most prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas that are formed from gland cells, which in this case are the cells that make the prostate fluid that is added to the semen. Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow very slowly. Prostate cancer can be sneaky. Autopsies show that many older men and even some younger men who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lifetime. In many cases, they didn’t even know they had cancer. Read on for more information about prostate cancer stages.
The 4 Stages of Prostate Cancer
Once a male is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the doctor will determine if it has spread and how far it has spread, a process called staging. Within the 4 stages are substages or grades, however, these 4 describe the basic criteria. The stages help determine a doctor understand how serious the cancer is and how best to treat it. Doctors also use stages when explaining survival statistics to their patients. Stages are based on tests including the blood PSA level and biopsy results.
- Stage I prostate cancer is when the tumor can’t be felt during a digital exam. PSA levels are low and cells involve only a small portion of the prostate and are usually slow-growing.
- Stage II prostate cancer is small and contained within the prostate. It can be felt but sometimes not. PSA levels are low or medium.
- In Stage III prostate cancer, PSA levels are high and the tumor is growing, or the cancer is high grade. This stage is where it is likely to grow and spread without aggressive treatment.
- Stage IV is when cancer has spread beyond the prostate into the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your particular needs. If you’re interested in being part of a clinical trial, ask your doctor if there is one to join, especially if a newer treatment might be a good choice for your case. Other important things to consider include:
- Your age and life expectancy.
- Other serious health conditions, if any.
- Your feelings and your doctor’s opinion about treating your cancer right away.
- The likelihood of curing your cancer or prolonging your life.
- How you feel about the side effects of treatment options.
You may feel that you need to seek treatment immediately for the best outcome but if you have any lingering questions or doubts that aren’t being addressed satisfactorily, seek a second opinion. Don’t forget to ask your doctor about prostate cancer stages and best treatment.